Biden recounted: “All of the governors, no matter their political party . . . no matter what their political philosophy, shared a strong and abiding sense of a common purpose. There was a real desire for a real partnership between the states and the federal government.” He added, “What really pleased me the most was that the governors made clear that beating covid-19 is going to require all of us working together as one country.” Apparently, none of the governors pretended that Biden was not the president-elect. None wanted to let the ball drop in the hand-off between one administration and the next.
None of them are anti-mask, either. Biden noted, “Ten governors — Democrats and Republicans — have imposed masking requirements and recognize the need for universal masking. It’s not a political statement. It’s a patriotic duty.” That’s remarkable, given how ludicrously partisan Trump’s followers have made mask-wearing.
As it turns out, the obvious public health measures that Trump and his right-wing sycophants have blocked or politicized are non-controversial, even for conservative governors in states Trump easily carried. Remember when Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) did not want to “bail out” blue states that they claimed were irresponsible? Red-state governors are desperate for money as well. “The lost revenue from covid and the cost of covid recovery is devastating to state and local budgets,” Biden pointed out. “As [the governors] indicated, we’ve got to come together. The federal government has to deliver this relief — sooner rather than later — and with flexibility for states to meet their needs.” He reeled off a list of priorities — “helping businesses, schools, and working families — from unemployment benefits to early education to continued access to affordable health care. All of that is needed during the pandemic.” And he pointed out, “States and communities shouldn’t have to lay off teachers, cops, and firefighters, and cut vital services for families and businesses.”
There was agreement on all sorts of practical steps: a coordinated plan for free vaccinations and free testing; a plan to "reach traditionally underserved communities that are being hardest hit by the pandemic — Black, brown, Latino, Native American communities, small towns and rural communities.”; and new funding for the National Guard, including waiving fees ordinarily paid to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
How can Republicans in Congress and the White House behave so recklessly while conservative and moderate Republicans across the country can sit down and discuss common goals? For one thing, Trump never felt an obligation to do anything; his courtiers in Congress follow his lead and prefer political theater to governing. Governors do not have the luxury of temper-tantrums and hyperpartisanship. Second, people are in dire straits around the country — and especially in red states where the incidence of covid-19 is skyrocketing. Faced with a economic and public health calamity, governors have to put aside ideological blather and get help from the federal government. Spending federal dollars to help states and localities get by may be a partisan brouhaha in national Republican circles; where governors sit, it’s literally a matter of life and death.
In recognizing the sanctity of elections and acting like responsible adults, these Republican governors put their D.C. colleagues to shame. They understand without the federal government’s help grave and unnecessary harm will come about. They are not willing to sit by and do nothing. For setting an example, defending democracy and practicing responsible governance we can say, well done, governors.
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